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The Emerald Tablet
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GarryP
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Posted: Fri Jul 30, 2004 2:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Deb, yes, that helps a great deal. Not only is it way earlier than Alan Leo, but I also find it interesting that he was just quoting the 'as above' bit without the converse.

It's on p.7 of my copy btw.

Now, I wonder where he got it from....?
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Deb
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Posted: Fri Jul 30, 2004 3:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I’m probably a bit dense but I haven’t followed this discussion very well. If I say something stupid just roll your eyes to heaven and tut.

Quote:
Now, I wonder where he got it from....?


This is why I’m confused. He’s obviously referring to the Hermetic tradition which is capturing a very ancient philosophy of the universe being an integrated whole, with correspondence between above and below, inside and outside. This is the Mesopotamian outlook captured in the Epic of Creation, (presumed to belong to the old Babylonian period: 1900-1650 BC), which states that the Earth is the counterpart of Heaven and therefore any event in the sky must have its equivalent upon the Earth. Similarly, their outlook was such that any event on earth must have its counterpart in the sky. All astrological philosophy derives from this perspective.

I think you are going to say “yes I know that, but…”

It’s the ‘but’ bit I don’t understand. Culpeper abbreviates the expression and talks about the celestial acting upon the terrestrial, but even so he talks about mutual harmony and one part of creation producing an effect in another so I don’t think his understanding of the phrase was any different from if he’d used the full quote on the Emerald Tablet. (Eg., presumably his metaphorical reference to the feet influencing the head doesn’t mean he doubts the head also influences the feet, it just gets tedious to go into such detail).

Since I’m not sure I'm hitting the relevant point, I'd best leave it at that Laughing
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GarryP
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Posted: Fri Jul 30, 2004 5:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes I know that, but...

(Well I wouldn't want to disappoint you, Deb Tongue Out )

The thing is this: so far as Holmyard & Needham (ref'd earlier in thread) are concerned, the earliest positive identification of the Emerald Tablet is in the 9th century CE, in Arabic, probably translated from Syriac, possibly from a Greek original though this is seen as less likely. In fact Needham is quite keen on the idea that it may have originated, much earlier, in China. But he admits that this is just an idea based on a perceived similarity in ideas between the E-Tab and Taoist/alchemical ideas.

So if you reckon there's a solid case for 'as above' etc being found in the 'Enuma Elish' (that's the epic you have in mind isn't it?) then this would be interesting, maybe even ground-breaking. I mean - so far as I know, I make no claim to be an authority on all this stuff!

Text of 'Enuma Elish' is available online btw:

http://www.sacred-texts.com/ane/stc/index.htm

But that's only one issue, around the question of the origins of the saying. The other thing which I find interesting is, when did astrologers cotton on to it and start using it? (There might be an argument to say that it was astrological in origin, and that it goes in and out of vogue, with Blavatsky being the most recent person to give it a big push.)

And was it always the first part only that was used - 'as above so below'? Because I think the argument can be made that this is symptomatic of an attitude where the emphasis is all on the planets doing things to us down here - in other words a model which fits much more nicely with classical science than 'as above so below, as below so above' - which, with its emphasis on two-way traffic, is much closer to the idea of a participatory universe (and therefore some of the ideas of modern physics - not to mention the idea of the astrologer's mind having a crucial role to play in the act of judging a chart).

Does that make sense? I'm sure I could express it more clearly if I had a week or two.
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Deb
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Posted: Tue Aug 03, 2004 12:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I’m used to references to the Emerald Tablet of Thoth, so I’ve always assumed it originated from Egypt or from ancient ‘biblical’ times – ie, being “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” sort of stuff.

Is there any reason why the information given in the link below has been discredited? This claims that the Emerald Tablet of Thoth was carved from a single piece of green crystal and although believed to date back many thousands of years, it’s earliest official dating is when it was translated into Greek by Alexandrian scholars and put on display in 330 BC. The translation here is

…That which is below is like that which is on high, and that which is on high is like that which is below; by these things are made the miracles of one thing. And as all things are, and come from One, by the mediation of One, So all things are born from this unique thing by adaptation.

http://www.crystalinks.com/emeraldtablet.html

I’m sure I’ve seen more relevant references but not knowing their significance I haven’t noted them. It certainly seems to express monotheistic cosmic sympathy, which underlines Stoicism, neo-pythagoreanism and the oriental (ie, Egyptian/Babylonian) philosophies that established the framework for classical astrology. I’d be surprised if the quote or something very similar isn’t in the works of Galen or Hippocrates, especially since the latter’s “Ars longa, vita brevis“ has been so often repeated in astrological works. (I know he wrote "There is one common flow, one common breathing, all things are in sympathy", but I think you want something more specific. That sort of comment is all over the classical texts).

I’m going to keep a look out and get back to you if I can come up with something that bears a more direct relation to the phrase you’re looking at, and its use in the abbreviated form.
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GarryP
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Posted: Tue Aug 03, 2004 8:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Deb,

I think what there is on that page is one of the legends about how the Emerald Tablet was discovered, retold without the proviso that nobody knows whether it's true or not.

I found what looks like a good piece of work on the tablet on this site... whose URL it's impossible to cut & paste, strangely enough. I've never encountered that before. Must be some secret hermetic thing. Hold on while I laboriously copy it out by hand, the way we used to do in the olden days...

www.sofiatopia.org/equiaeon/emerald.htm

Oh yes, and this one:

http://www.alchemylab.com/hyper_history.htm

goes into detail on the tablet being put on display in Heliopolis after being discovered by Alexander the Great. Allegedly.

Maurice McCann kindly looked up a few more instances of Leo using it - at the start of ChXIV 'Esoteric Astrology' he refers to it as 'the well-known Hermetic maxim'.
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granny_skot



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Posted: Tue Aug 03, 2004 11:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well according to http://www.ancientroute.com/cities/heliopolis.htm Plato studied under the high priests here, so it would seem that at least some of the story has merit. Glass, being made from fine sand and heat, was also something more commonly found in the desserts of egypt than other places, so I can imagine if someone found a particularly nice chink of natural glass, that it would be a fine surface to use for inscription, all they would need is acid, also quite compnly used in ancient egypt. So, I dont know how factual the account is, but it at least has some plausibility. Smile

granny
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Deb
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Posted: Mon Aug 23, 2004 3:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Garry,

I’ve been meaning to get back to you for a while, but needed some time to check out various translations of the Enuma Elish. I agree, it doesn’t offer any support for the comment I made earlier. I got this from notes I made years ago, and the reference I have for it is R. C. Thomson, The Epic of Gilgamish; Clarendon Press, Oxford 1930. But I don’t have access to that particular text now so I have no idea how or why I have him on file as saying that the Mesopotamians viewed the Earth is the counterpart of Heaven and therefore any event in the sky must have its equivalent upon the Earth. Perhaps this was in some commentary of his which I still need to verify, or maybe it’s just my own error that has been brought to light by the information you have placed here.

I’m still looking into this and will get back to you later if I turn up anything of value (might take some time).

I’m still inclined towards the view that it existed as an ancient philosophy that was translated according to the alleged reports. I noticed that in his article on Mercury in Myth and Occult Philosophy David McCann writes:

Quote:
As a result of Thoth's position as a patron of knowledge, writers in Ptolemaic and Roman times attributed various books to 'Hermes Trismegistus', as they called him. These dealt with philosophy and religion (e.g., the Corpus Hermeticus and the Asclepius), astrology (e.g., the Liber Hermetis), and magic (numerous texts which have not been published, much less translated). The philosophical books were read and admired not only by pagans, but also by Church Fathers such as Lactantius. They were highly regarded in the Renascence, when they were considered to have preserved the wisdom of the ancient Egyptians and to predate both the Greek philosophers and the Bible; that is why Marsilio Ficino was asked to translate Hermes before Plato. Later scholars dismissed them, claiming that they were written at the end of the Roman Empire and contained no more than a mixture of Greek and Christian ideas. Modern scholars have largely abandoned this extreme view, and the discovery of the Asclepius in Coptic (the late form of the Egyptian language) has shown that they are indeed a legacy of Egyptian culture.


Whether that applies to the Emerald Tablet too I don’t know, but there doesn’t seem to be any reason to believe that it can’t. I called David to ask if he knew of any early references to the phrase. He didn’t off the top of his head but was as surprised as me to think that they wouldn’t exist, so he is going to keep on the look out too.

If you get any more information, let me know.

Deb
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granny_skot



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Posted: Mon Aug 23, 2004 6:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deb penned "I got this from notes I made years ago, and the reference I have for it is R. C. Thomson, The Epic of Gilgamish; Clarendon Press, Oxford 1930. But I don’t have access to that particular text now so I have no idea how or why I have him on file as saying that the Mesopotamians viewed the Earth is the counterpart of Heaven and therefore any event in the sky must have its equivalent upon the Earth. "

My tuppence: Isn't this the very definition of Astrology? I believe some things are so well ingrained, part of what we do, we presume that others already understand this and therefore we dont verbalize the ideal. Or pen it. =) If the earth is a reflection of the sky, and the reverse, then Astrology makes sense, else we're all enjoying a fruitless excersize. I have found astrology too usefull and insightful to consider it fruitless...

Granny.
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GarryP
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Posted: Mon Nov 15, 2004 8:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I’ve encountered some interesting leads since my last post on this theme, so thought an update might be in order:

1) William Lilly’s mate Elias Ashmole quoted ‘as above…’ in Latin in his alchemical work 'Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum' (1652):

“For this is the maxim of old Hermes, Quod est superius, est sicut id quod est inferius.” (p.446)

Ashmole’s text can be found online here:
http://dewey.library.upenn.edu/sceti/flash.cfm?CFID=300683&CFTOKEN=83074057

Many thanks to Ruth Clydesdale for this.

2) The general idea of a both-ways relationship (above to below and below to above) is found in Kabbalah…

“Though similar to the Neoplatonic vision of the universe issuing forth in a series of hierarchically ordered emanations from the divine monad, as discussed, for example, by Plotinus in his Enneads, the Sephiroth have a more dynamic quality in that while they rule creation and determine its fate, they do not embody the same sense of stasis as the Neoplatonic system, but partake of a reciprocal relationship with creation, such that the actions of the individual Cabalist are also held to decide the fate of the
Sephiroth themselves.”

- Peter J. Forshaw, 'Ora et Labora: Alchemy, Magic and Cabala in Heinrich Khunrath's Amphitheatrum Sapientiae Aeternae (1609)', Doctoral Thesis, Volume 1, University of London, 2003, Chapter 3: Wonder-Working Words, The Origins of Cabala, p.132

Many thanks to Peter for this. He provided the following refs relating to the above passage: Joseph Dan, ‘The Early Kabbalah’, New York: Paulist Press, 1986, p.13. For the Neoplatonist angle – Plotinus Ennead V for his discussion of emanations and R. T. Wallis, Neoplatonism, London: Duckworth & Co., 1972, pp.61ff.

3) At p.126 of 'Belonging to the Universe' - a book of conversations between Fritjof Capra and two religious types, one of whom is David Steindl-Rast - David S-R says:

"...the Greek definition of a human being as a zoon logikon is not entirely correctly translated as 'rational animal'. It means an animal that has the logos, or the 'word', the principle of reading patterns. The Greek logos is the pattern that makes a cosmos out of chaos. We are animals that have the logos within us, and therefore, we can understand the cosmos."

- Which seems to me to come very close to ‘as above, so below; as below, so above’. People who know about these things reckon that ‘rational animal’ comes from Aristotle, probably the Metaphysics, though we haven't actually caught Aristotle red-handed yet. Any offers on this front welcome.

Given the influence of Aristotle, and the idea of the human as a ‘rational animal’ in the West, it’s interesting to think how different things might have been if zoon logikon had been translated differently.

OK, enough for one post!
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GarryP
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Posted: Fri Nov 19, 2004 10:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tycho Brahe:

"In an introductory oration to the course of lectures he gave in Copenhagen in 1574, Tycho defended astrology on the grounds of correspondences between the heavenly bodies, terrestrial substances (metals, stones etc.), and bodily organs. He was later to emphasise the importance of studying alchemy and astrology together with a pair of emblems bearing the mottoes Despiciendo suspicio - "By looking down I see upward" - and Suspiciendo despicio - "By looking up I see downward." As several scholars have now argued, Tycho's commitment to a relationship between macrocosm and microcosm even played a role in his rejection of Copernicanism and his construction of a third world-system."

from: http://www.hps.cam.ac.uk/starry/tychoastrol.html

Big thanks to Faye Cossar for this.
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Kevin



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Posted: Fri Nov 19, 2004 4:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Garry,

Have you investigated the division of matter and spirit that occurred during the rise of Gnostic thought? While this will not point to the very origins of the principle, I believe it does mark the divide between Neo-platonic "static" realms, and Aristotean/deamonic magics. In examining Gnostic texts there seems to be a wrestling over the "goodness" of the orders of the universe. As Jewish apocalyptic beliefs did not produce the hoped-for salvation from Roman oppression, -the last revolt occuring around 136 AD I believe- the new Christian inheritance of these beliefs were faced with a certain disillusionment. The 7 archons (the planets) now came to represent the material realm, which was created and run by, either an ignorant or malevolent demi-urge (in some texts the god of the Jews Yahweh), which fit neatly into neo-platonic models the gradation of the divine. These Gnostic beliefs are of course extremely heterogeneous, but I believe that this is a turning point in Western History. Aristotelian materialism, -the "scientific" examination of the laws which matter "obeyed" became melded with Levantine daemonolgy in which spirits controlled matter through the order of the planets. And while Gnosticism would not be accepted directly into the cannon of Western thought, it did give impetus to the division of the material and spiritual realms. Already in the thinking of Philo and Clement of Alexandria, and then in Plotinus, there is a spiritualization where Neo-Platonism seeks to transcend these lower realms as pale shadows, rather than investigate and control them. I believe right here is where "magic" got its new bad name, for it dealt with the lower powers and its Saturn/Satan/demi-urge figure. Ironically, it was not until Aristotle returned to Europe through Averroes, did the legacy of magic present itself once again, now through a line of thinking that would become "scientific materialism", the control of matter through discoverable laws, which would drown-out the flourish of Platonism of the 16th century. You rightly mark the difference between "As above so below", and the desire to affect the above through what is done below.


Sincerely, Kevin
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GarryP
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Posted: Sun Nov 21, 2004 12:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Kevin,

Well it's kind of weird that you should mention Gnosticism just now. Yesterday on a train journey my friend James Frazier was telling me about Simon Magus. And (according to the Encyclopedia Britannica):

Quote:
The first Gnostic about whom something can be said with confidence is Simon Magus, a 1st-century Jewish heterodox teacher who introduced the fundamental Gnostic conception that evil resulted from a break within the Godhead.


Now, I don't know anything about Mr Magus and not much more about Gnosticism, but a bit of Googling turned up a site with the text of GRS Mead's Simon Magus:

http://www.fullbooks.com/Simon-Magus2.html

On this page we find the following:

Quote:
This brings us to a consideration of the teachings of Simon with regard to the Lesser World, the Microcosm, Man, and to the scheme of his soteriology. Evidently Simon taught the ancient, immemorial doctrine that the Microcosm Man was the Mirror and Potentiality of the Cosmos, the Macrocosm, as we have already seen above. Whatever was true of the emanation of the Universe, was also true of Man, whatever was true of the Macrocosmic Aeons was true of the Microcosmic Aeons in Man, which are potentially the same as those of the Cosmos, and will develop into the power and grandeur of the latter, if they can find suitable expression, or a vehicle. This view will explain the reason of the ancients for saying that we could only perceive that of which we have a germ already within us. Thus it is that Empedocles taught:

By earth earth we perceive; by water, water; by aether, aether; fire, by destructive fire; by friendship, friendship; and strife by bitter strife.

And if the potentiality of all resided in every man, the teaching on this point most forcibly has been, _Qui se cognoscit, in se omnia cognoscit_--He who knows himself, knows all in himself--as Q. Fabius Pictor tells us. And, therefore, the essential of moral and spiritual training in ancient times was the attainment of Self-Knowledge--that is to say, the attainment of the certitude that there is a divine nature within every man, which is of infinite capacity to absorb universal Wisdom; that, in brief, Man was _essentially_ one with Deity.

With Simon, as with the Hermetic philosophers of ancient Egypt, all things were interrelated by correspondence, analogy, and similitude. "As above, so below," is the teaching on the Smaragdine Table of Hermes. Therefore, whatever happened to the divine Epinoia, the Supreme Mother, among the Aeons, happened also to the human Spiritual Soul or Monadic essence, in its evolution through all stages of manifestation. This Soul is shut into all forms and bodies, successively up to the stage of man.


So, thanks for a most excellent lead!
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Ortet



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Posted: Mon Nov 22, 2004 3:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just had a rare opportunity to read a very interesting discussion between such knowlegable astrologers.
By the way, there is a question I would like to ask you (if you don't mind), but I'm going to raise the issue in another forum: NATIVITIES & GENERAL ASTROLOGY. It is about the SUN SIGNS.

Luis
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GarryP
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Posted: Tue Jul 05, 2005 7:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anyone who found this thread interesting will almost certainly want to see a paper by Judy Hall, which argues (with an abundance of historical reference) that the principle of 'as above, so below' can be traced back to Egyptian cosmology and religion.

It's available at:

http://www.astrozero.co.uk/articles/Correspondence.htm
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Deb
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Posted: Mon Jul 11, 2005 9:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Garry,

It is very good. I read it quickly the other day and have printed a copy to read more closely when I have more time. Let's hope it gets taken seriously in all the right places, so we can drop the argument that there is no evidence to support the view that this philosophy is ancient. Then we can argue about whether Ptolemy actually wrote the Tetrabiblos himself, or whether it written by someone else called Ptolemy who lived in the same place at the same time.

I also have to say that it was good to see the skyscript forum mentioned more than once in the references to the article. It's reassuring to know someone is paying attention to our ramblings.

Nice one Judy!
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